Edward West

The following is taken verbatim from Commemorative biographical record of the Fox River Valley counties of Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago : containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, and of many of the early settled families . J. H. Beers and Co., 1895, p. 969-

EDWARD WEST, Appleton, was born in Perry county, Pennsylvania, March 20, 1818. His parents, William and Susannah (nee Loy) West, were both natives of Pennsylvania. His father was a farmer and surveyor, and until his fourteenth year Edward resided at home on the farm, early in life assisting in such labor as his age and strength would permit. In 1832 he was sent to the Washington (Pennsylvania) College, and for three years pursued his studies in that institution. Leaving college when about eighteen years old he journeyed alone westward, arriving in Detroit on the 10th of April, 1836.
Eventually he made his way to Milwaukee. In 1837 the number of inhabitants of Milwaukee had increased so that a public school was needed. Up until then the only schools were private or parochial. Edward West became the first public school teacher, for $60 a month, in the first public school in the Wisconsin Territory. He farmed in the Milwaukee area until 1852 when he purchased land in Appleton and moved here. Three years later he bought over 500 acres on the south side of the Fox River including Grand Chute island. He foresaw he value of water power and soon built a dam across the south channel of the island. He built a machine shop and woolen mill on the island and dug a canal which furnished them with water power. By the end of 1870 he had completed the digging of a grand canal the entire length of the island.
Reproduction of photograph from Fox Valley Memory
Used with permission of the Appleton Public Library

The construction of the grand canal was without doubt the most important of all Appleton's improvements, and as long as the water flows down the Fox river the canal, with its manufacturing establishments, will be a living monument to its enterprising builder.

For his efforts he received from the citizens of Appleton a silver tea service with the following inscription:

"Presented to Edward West by the citizens of Appleton as a token of their appreciation of his enterprise in building the Grand Chute island canal."

Portion of: Foote, C. M. 1849-1899. (Charles M.); Brown,
Walter S. Plat Book of Outagamie County, Wisconsin, (1889).
The city of Appleton: west central part, p. 23.
Used with permission of the Appleton Public Library.